Thursday, October 21, 2010

This magic moment

There is a cadence to island life, a rhythm that seduces and beguiles.

I've been resisting it. I had a proposal to finish that had to be submitted by yesterday noon.

I opened the email this morning that confirmed its submission and now... watch out rest and relaxation. I'm on my way!

There have been some indications I'm falling under the lull of Caribbean time. My arise time each morning has progressively slipped its moorings from work-a-day to holiday. From six to seven to today's unheard of awakening at 7:45 I am slowly letting go of 'duty calls' to fall under the spell of life at ease.

And I'm happy to do so.

Yesterday was a day of indulgence. Swimming. Sunning. Reading. When we got to hot we slipped into the ocean and let the swell rise and fall around us. It was a choppier sea than before. Breakers rolled in. Surfers bobbed and then rose and sailed across their crests, darting in and out of the waves, maintaining a constant rhythm just out beyond the reef until exhausted, they let the next wave carry them ashore. It was poetry in motion.

Everyone relaxed while I finished off the little bit of work I had left and Andy prepared for a board meeting he has to attend via conference call on Friday morning. By afternoon I was ready for a nap and I succumbed.

Oh glorious sleep in the middle of the afternoon!

We went into Bridgetown last night. A friend we've made here was going to listen to her partner's band, The Ebe Gilkes Jazz Trio, perform at the Waterfront Cafe and Bistro.

We left the house early, thinking we'd wander the shops of Bridgetown for an hour or so before joining up with our new friend at the Cafe. We forgot, Bridgetown shops close up at 5 sharp. And in downtown Bridgetown there's not much enterprise other than taxi drivers after dark. On every corner, every by-road, they stood beside their vehicles hailing us with arms waving and strident voices calling us to take a ride in their cab.

"You need cab? You need cab?" they called out. "I got your ride. Right here." And they'd motion to the white vehicle that promised to deliver us where ever we wanted to go.

"No thank you!" we'd call back, I'm sure marking us as Canadians, greenhorns on the island.

We wandered past the parliament buildings, down Trafalgar Street into a back lane where OTBs and Juke joints crowded up against the sidewalk, their neon lights and harsh interior lighting fighting for supremacy in the indigo night.

Dark descends quickly in the Tropic of Cancer. The sun counts itself down with the inevitability of the New Year's ball dropping in Times Square. Golden hues tinged with burnt umber and crimson streak across the sky then quickly vanish into the horizon, slipping into the envelope of tomorrow's promise of a brand new day of sun-kissed sands and rolling surf.

By the time we got to the Waterfront Cafe, night had embraced the island and the hawkers and vendors had disappeared leaving behind deserted streets and dark alleys.

We didn't get in any shopping but we did find our boat Captain for adventures in the days to come. He was playing dominoes beneath the canopy of a little cupola that stood at the edge of the wharf, at the corner where our cab-driver had let us off.

"You wanna fish?" he called out as we walked by.

Jack, whose wish it has been to find the perfect craft to take us deep sea fishing responded quickly. "We might be."

The man dropped his dominoes without hesitation, stood up, smiled at his friends and walked over to us. "Can't pass up the opportunity to tell you about my boats, even if I am winning at Dominoes," he laughingly told us as he approached. "My name's Godfrey. Where you folks from?"

He was a big man. Not tall, but solid. Ebony skin wreathed in a smile of pearly whites, white linen shirt, open neck. He carried a sheath of brochures in one hand.

Jack, eager to organize the adventure and worried none of us would acquiesce without his finesse, asked, "Can you show us your boat?"

"Sure man," Godfrey replied. "I've got one parked right here and one at the end of the dock." And he began to lead us towards a line of sea crafts bobbing and tugging against their ropes that held them captive to the wooden slats of the pier.

The boat looked sea-worthy, outfitted with all the gear and essentials for a day on the high seas. As we walked towards where the second craft he wanted to show us was berthed, two men unloaded their catch, flinging them none-too-gently from their boat onto the wooden dock. We had to step over the three foot long bodies of the kingfishers that only hours before had been swimming in the oceans deep. They were gutted and ready for market. No one seemed too concerned about the cleanliness of their resting place on the side of the dock, no one rushed over to ensure they met sanitary and health regulations. The hackles of my western infused health and safety standards hackled and then quickly relaxed.

I'm on the island man. No worry. The fish, he don't know the difference.

We sauntered along the dock, spied a catamaran and Tammy asked me, "What do you think Louise? Wouldn't that be fun."

Godfrey, entrepreneur par excellence, overheard us and quickly interjected. "You want a day of sailing? I can get you on this craft. $160 a person. Lunch included and all your booze. Everything. Fun day. Yes? When you want to go?"

We laughed. We want to go. We just don't know what day.

Turns out, Godfrey lived in Ottawa for 13 years. His wife, a woman of Canadian birth, passed away recently. "I was lucky," he told me. "I had thirty years of perfection." He paused. "I miss her." And then he continued on to tell us the virtues of a day out on the seas.

We left Godfrey with promises of calling to book our high seas adventures and entered the Waterfront Cafe which is on the dock right across from the boat we might go fishing on.

The restaurant was quiet, one couple eating, three staff standing behind the bar. A woman with a warm smile slipped out from behind the bar's wooden enclosure to greet us.

"You're here for dinner?" she asked. "Would you like to sit outside on the patio?"

No, we replied. We'd prefer to sit inside. We're hear to listen to the band.

She quickly created a large seating area for us at the side of the raised dais where the band would play and we proceeded to indulge in Bank's beer and mouth-watering bistro style food. Giant prawns. Samosa. Chicken jerky. Grilled salmon and a shrimp and pasta dish that was to die for.

Making the evening even more memorable was the warm and delightful nature of our waitress, Chantal. Her smile wide, her manner comfortable and caring, she laughed and giggled as she served us, all the while ensuring we never wanted for water or beer or anything else. When C.C. and Jack asked if they could take their beers outside to drink while they smoked, she laughed and responded, "I don't plan on drinking them so you'd better take them with you."

And then, our new friend arrived and the band and the music started and we slipped under the spell of Ebe Gilkes' nimble fingers stroking the ivories accompanied by the sultry tones of Dr. Clarence Green on the double bass and Vere Gibson's soft beat on the drums.

It was pure magic.

Sultry heat. Calypso jazz. Wine. Beer. Boats bobbing on the water outside the door. The night sky awash in the glow of an almost full moon. Lilting voices. Soft lights. And laughter all around. We met the folks sitting at the table beside us. Chatted. Laughed. Danced. Tammy had brought neon glow in the dark wrist bracelets and suddenly all the women were adorned with a plastic ring glowing in the night.

We danced and danced some more. And then, just before ten, we left the magic of the room and went outside to find Malcolm, our erstwhile taxi driver waiting to whisk us home.

It was another perfect moment imbued in the wonder of a Caribbean night. Another memory to treasure on the coral reef of time under the sun.


Maureen said...

How wonderful that you're having memory-making time, especially now that the work you carried with you is done.

Joyceann Wycoff said...

You sound so happy ... glad you're finding time to really relax now.